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Scientists warn Jesus' tomb is now in danger of crumbling

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3/31/2017 (2 years ago)
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'It doesn't belong to us, it belongs to all humanity.'

Jesus' tomb was recently reopened to the public following a lengthy restoration, but now scientists warn the sacred site may be at risk of collapse.

Will Jesus' tomb crumble due to a poor foundation?

Will Jesus' tomb crumble due to a poor foundation?


Catholic Online (
3/31/2017 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Jesus, tomb, collapse

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to National Geographic, scientists believe there is a "very real risk" that Jesus' tomb rests on an extremely unstable foundation.

A team from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), which just completed the tomb's restoration, warned more work is required or the holy site can cave in on itself.

Antonia Moropoulou, NTUA's chief scientific supervisor, stated, "When it fails, the failure will not be a slow process, but catastrophic."

Ground-penetrating radar, robotic cameras and other high-tech tools were used to reveal the site, which is found within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, rests on a foundation of crumbled remnants of earlier structures and contains several tunnels and channels, further shaking the already unstable land.

Mortar for the foundation has crumbled after years of exposure to moisture and several of the 22-ton pillars holding the dome of the rotunda are barely holding up above over four feet of rubble.

Archaeologists believer about 2,000 years ago, the site was home to a limestone quarry that eventually turned into a home for tombs for the Jewish upper class. Several tombs were identified within the church grounds, including the tomb believed to belong to Jesus Christ.

Around 324 A.D., a Roman temple built on the site was destroyed by Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome. When the temple was eradicated, the tomb of Christ was discovered.

Constantine built a shrine around the tomb but it was partially destroyed by Persian invaders in the seventh century A.D. and again by the Fatimids in 1009.


Christ's tomb within The Edicule [shrine] inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel (Vadim Petrakov/Shutterstock).

In the mid-11th century, the church was reconstructed and a small shrine to enclose Jesus' tomb called the Eicule, Latin for "little house," was erected. It was later altered by Crusaders and restored once more in the 16th and 19th centuries, all of which made the abused foundation even less stable.

The NTU proposed a 10-months, â'Ź6 million project, which involves the removal of fractured stone pavements around the Edicule, excavating over 1,000-square-feet of floor for the installation of new sewage and rainwater drainage around the perimeter of the rotunda and the grouting of foundation rubble and degraded mortar.

They suggest a plan to keep the roughly 4 million annual visitors from interrupting the important conservation work.

Many archaeologists are eagerly discussing the necessity of an archaeological excavation during the restoration process.

Martin Biddle, who studied the history of the Edicule for nearly ten years, claimed without the excavation, it "would be an intellectual scandal, and I choose my words very carefully."

Moropoulou agrees.

The NTUA team is currently processing data collected during the previous restoration and intents to make it available to other scientists on a "Holy Sephulchre Information Platform."

"This work is a collective work," Moropoulou explained. "It doesn't belong to us, it belongs to all humanity."


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